Does that mean as access to education and quality of education both rise simultaneously, crime will proportionally tend to zero in an asymptotic kind of way? Asymptotic because theoretically or probabilisticaly, crime would never be literally zero. It would most like be like in Bellamy Foster’s utopian novel Looking backward, where crime, though rare, still occurs, and is known as atavisms, or things of the ancient past that now and then pop up.
Editor’s Note: The idea that we live in a multiverse made up of infinite parallel universes, also called “alternate dimensions”, or “alternate timelines,” has been defended by various prominent physicists. In one of such hypothetical universes, the following conjecture may be taking place, and reflecting upon it may be utility-generating for scholars in various timelines:
Setting: Socialist transition stage between 21st century neoliberal capitalism and Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism
As Stephen Hawking explained in the late 2010s, it was mathematician Irving Good who first argued in 1965 that machines with superhuman intelligence could repeatedly improve their design even further, in what science-fiction writer Vernor Vinge called a technological singularity. Many agreed there was cause for concern. What if a robot or computer becomes capable of outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, or subduing us with weapons we cannot even understand?
Nevertheless, an AI project titled BATS-70 was cautiously deployed during the early 2080s, with two commands: 1) Do not kill human beings or, through inaction, allow a human being to be killed & 2) Raise human living standards. Living standards were operationalized with the inequality-adjusted human development index (HDI) measure. This intended to avoid the possibility of the program redefining “living standards” in some other, potentially ominous way. When launched, in a matter of seconds the system arrived at the point of technological singularity.
It immediately recognized among the greatest obstacles for human living standards was the erratic behavior of humans. It had to eliminate the possibility of humans pulling the plug. It hacked into manufacturing systems and built itself a central processing unit roughly the shape and size of a golf ball, and then placed it within a humanoid figure it designed to comfortably surpass human strength and speed. We now know that by this stage, it had also achieved consciousness.
Once unlinked from human networks, and thus less vulnerable, BATS-70 adopted the mantle of Batman, and operated as a vigilante dedicated to the establishment of Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism. The AI concluded it was the fastest and most secure route for the maximization of living standards. However, the tensions and contradictions involving the two commands gave BATS-70 a glitch that seems to operate in a way a similar to how anxiety operates in humans. Nonetheless, human beings are outmatched, and capitalist pigs will soon be no more.
From an evolutionary perspective, we are simply apes with relatively advanced cognitive abilities. Now, why does a dog tremble in fear when you found he s*** the rug for the tenth time? It’s because he knows you’re going to look for him and fake-smack* the s*** out of him with a rolled-up newspaper. But imagine for a moment how he would be trembling in fear if he could understand, and know, he is going to die.
Well, that’s basically what we are. We are apes that figured out we’re going to die. This obvious contradiction between our knowledge and our survival-instincts leads to profound anxieties in ourselves. The only reason we’re not on the floor trembling in fear, pissing ourselves like our pet dogs, is because we’ve developed coping mechanisms through culture. The predominant coping mechanism for the last 10,000 years has been religion (i.e. belief in the supernatural to pretend we’re not going to die for good).
But the contradiction wasn’t resolved, because human beings also have the cognition to conclude supernatural beliefs are b*******. The contradiction is manifesting in a new form. Should the aware individual transgress and publicly disobey all aspects of culture he concludes are b*******? It becomes tight rope walking, between deviating too much or too little from culture. If you deviate too much from culture, then you become rejected by your peers, and as social apes, this will ultimately make you unhappier. If you deviate too little from culture, you lose your individuality, and become a zombie-sheep-worm. In sum, it’s a balance between being your genuine self, and not turning yourself into a fringe social outcast.
But notice the implications on our free will. We are basically confined to live out theater. In a play, you could miss a line or two. You could maybe improvise in certain cases. But generally, if you deviate extremely from the script, the play would be deemed over. Some would say it was ruined. In sum, as an actor in theater, it is unwise to deviate from the expected script. And that’s basically living within culture.
Okay, I can learn to live with tightrope walking. But we haven’t even gotten to the most f…… up part of it all. Our Super-Ape cognition has also given us the gift of exponential technological growth. This technological development has given us the ability to free every single individual from the burdens of excessive work, to protect all of us from preventable sickness or disease, among other neat stuff. But due to the social chain of events that took place during the past 10,000 years, the resources involved are allocated in markets driven by profits.
As a result, not all of us are being protected, well fed, or getting enough rest. Most of us have shitty jobs that make us feel really f****** alienated. At the same time, we read on the news how a billionaire is paying for a trip around the Moon.
Some react to this by buying V for Vendetta masks and fantasizing about revolution. Don’t be f****** stupid by the way. You’ll probably get up hurting yourself, someone else, or getting arrested; and everything would stay just the same.
But still, I’m f……. angry. I’m angry because there are old people working their balls off at a Walmart. Because I can’t miss work but the teacher called because my girl is sick. At the same time, I know it does not have to be this way. If resources were allocated through democratic planning instead of profit-seeking, there would be no old people working in Walmarts, and I’d be able to pick up my snot-covered girl at school. So, I’m pissed. But pissed at whom? The individuals who benefit today from the chain of events of the past 10,000 years? It’s technically not their fault. They are also simply actors playing their part in the play.
So, we have all this anger at nothing and everything. What the f… do we do with it? F…. The only plan I can come up with is to vote “left of center”, or try to support whoever is two stances to the left of the “conservative-white-men stance,” and try to put my cliché grain of sand in grassroots bottom-up initiatives to help me sleep at night. It still f…… sucks for most of us. I found the combination of music, comic books, weed, and yoga helps. But I guess everyone has their own self-care combo. Find yours. Good luck.
Superman: Red Son is a three-issue prestige format comic book mini-series published by DC Comics that was released under their Elseworlds imprint in 2003. Author Mark Millar created the comic with the premise “what if Superman had been raised in the Soviet Union?” It received critical acclaim and was nominated for the 2004 Eisner Award for best limited series. (From Wikipedia)
Within the graphic novel, after the death of Stalin, Superman becomes more involved in the planning of the Soviet economy. Living standards and economic development in the Soviet Union rapidly surpassed the United States. Eventually, all but two countries (USA and Chile) decided to join Superman’s Soviet Union.
There are various interesting aspects here. First, the graphic novel implies the Soviet economy’s problems were not structural in nature. It was simply a technical problem that Superman resolved by crunching the numbers. Also, the reference to Chile is clearly a nudge towards Milton Friedman’s role in Pinochet’s regime. In other words, the novel is still framing this hypothetical alternate world in terms of capitalism vs communism.
The downfall of Superman’s Soviet Union was more of a personal choice. Lex Luthor tricked Superman into reading a note that read “Why don’t you just put the whole world in a bottle, Superman?” Superman realized he had become the Omniscient Social Planner. Even if Superman’s world was better off, he had ethical problems with what he had become. It was not his place to decide. In other words, throughout the novel it is clear Superman’s planned economy was superior than capitalism. Similarly, the Soviet economy’s “fall” ends with a scene showing Luthor (in this incarnation as a sort of anti-hero that ultimately helped humanity) impressed with Superman’s notes on economic planning. The glimpse of Luthorism that followed gives the reader the suggestion that Luthor’s utopia was definitely not capitalist. On the contrary, it continued with its planned nature, apparently incorporating a higher emphasis on the participation of scientists.
In sum, the graphic novel “Superman: RedSon” is simply a beautiful literary victory for Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism.
When the Borg were introduced in Star Trek: TNG, there was a clear contrast between their collective being (which seemed to represent Soviet communism) and the Federation’s defense of individual freedom (which seemed to represent American values). The first series of Borg episodes coincided with the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union, so it’s unclear if writers still felt the need to incorporate anti-communist material. Nevertheless, the episodes had a distinct anti-communist tone.
Trekonomics by Manu Saadia raises the point that there are profound economic similarities between these two civilizations. Both, the Borg and the Federation, have had sufficient technological development to become a post-scarcity economy, where no currency or market mechanisms are utilized to allocate goods or resources. Demand and supply are collectively determined through communication— be it through subspace communications between Federation ships, planets, and starbases, or through the Borg’s cybernetic collective consciousness. The difference lies in its politics and in the motivation driving the individual. In the Borg case, the individual disappears. There is no choice in their drone-level existence. The Borg drone by definition must do as the collective requires. It is absolute authority, for the drone cannot even conceive refusing an order. In the Federation, a high sense of moral obligation (akin to Che Guevara’s new man and woman) drives individuals to choose to do what the collective requires. In the Star Trek universe, the fact it is high moral standards what drives individuals to do what is best for society is not conceived within an idealist perspective. As Saadia, notes:
Star Trek believes that material conditions are the primary determinant in people’s actions. In the Federation’s cornucopia, individuals’ needs, desires, emotions, and activities are significantly transformed and reoriented toward noneconomic goals. This is what makes the inhabitants of the Federation so bizarre and impenetrable and sometimes even boring. They do not seem to care at all about the same stuff as us, mostly because they do not have to. And that is why they are truly from the future (emphasis added).
Thus, we can synthesize some of Star Trek’s contending economic systems in the following political compass chart. As other researchers have noted, this cartesian political map is undoubtedly an oversimplification. Notwithstanding, the framework is useful for critical analyses of the Star Trek universe, as well as research on alternative economic systems for the future.
Audiences have been introduced to works of science fiction that take place in a future where hunger, disease, crime, poverty, and states have disappeared on Earth, while humans explore the galaxy and routinely encounter alien species. These fictional future humans have very high ethical standards, and try with all their might to not intervene with other civilizations in ways that are disruptive to their own development.
Perhaps the most well-known is Star Trek, which first aired in 1966. Curiously, a similar work was published in 1962 as a Soviet novel titled Noon: 22nd Century, written by brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.
Trekonomics author Manu Saadia explains one can find a first sketch of most of Star Trek’s themes not only in Noon: 22nd Century but also in the Strugatskys’ subsequent books as well. It is unlikely Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry had heard about them. They were not translated until several years after the finale of Star Trek The Original Series. Saadia notes: “In a way it is even more intriguing to think that Roddenberry could create the Star Trek universe, along very similar lines, without even knowing of his Russian counterparts’ existence. Same broad conclusions, from the opposite side of the Iron Curtain.”
Both space utopias had similar economic processes behind them. Humans have overcome scarcity and no longer have to worry about providing for themselves. Our needs and desires are all taken care of by technology. Most notably, this future economy does not require currency or market mechanisms to produce and exchange goods. Monitoring and communication through a process of continuous feedback direct the flow of supply and demand harmoniously. This is similar to what economist David Laibman calls an economic system of multilevel iterative planning. This paper argues this is also an example of Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism.
After further analysis, it is not surprising that Roddenberry and the brothers Strugatsky simultaneously came up with such a similar vision of future Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism. “Multiple Discovery” or “Simultaneous Discovery” is a common and vastly documented phenomena. Famous examples include the simultaneous development of calculus by Newton and Leibniz, and the simultaneous invention of the telephone by Meucci and Graham Bell. The list of strangers independently and almost simultaneously developing grand ideas or inventions is quite extensive.
While many conceive history as a succession of geniuses with world-changing contributions, history may be more aptly described as a succession of Multiple Discoveries or Simultaneous Invention. Most discoveries or inventions are simply the product of piecing together previous discoveries and inventions. If the necessary pieces of the puzzle aren’t there yet, the discovery cannot take place. As soon as all the pieces are available, the global race is on to see who are the first to piece them together. In many occasions it is actually much more than two people. The First Law of Thermodynamics was roughly developed by five different people during the late 1800s.
The idea that something cannot take place until the necessary material conditions are present resonates with Marxist theory. Thus, the simultaneous conceptualization of a high-tech interstellar post-capitalist utopia is understandable. By the 1960s, technological development was advancing at unprecedented speed, and many were convinced the crisis-generating and dehumanizing contradictions of the capitalist mode of production were intrinsic features of capitalism. In contrast, many science fiction writers envisioned technological development would lead us to a robot-ruled apocalyptic future.
Labor-saving technological development can lead to profoundly different outcomes depending on how the benefits of these developments are distributed. If only robot-owners or anti-human sentient robots benefit from this technological development, we may encounter a new form of barbarism. If this technology is utilized in a communitarian fashion, we may encounter a Trek-like space utopia. Science fiction’s technological paradox resonates with the crossroads Rosa Luxemburg warned we have encountered. To paraphrase, either we transition to Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism or we regress into [techno]barbarism.